A Time to Conserve
by Michael Nystrom | October 23, 2007
Bull! Not bull
California's wild fires are the big environmental news this week, but I still cannot stop thinking about Atlanta's water shortage. In case you haven't heard, a big part of the Southeast has been in the grips of a severe drought for the past two years. According to some reports, things are so serious that Atlanta is down to about a three month's supply of drinking water. Officials are calling for conservation, but what if it is not enough? What if the faucets of the Southeast run dry? Based on the stories that I have read, there is no plan B.
If the city of Atlanta really does run out of water what will the nation's response be? Will the city simply be sacrificed the way New Orleans was after Katrina? Will George Bush say, "No water? Let them drink Coke!" Will the federal government make any effort at all to save the region, or is this the way the American republic will crumble - one city at a time, each due to different, foreseeable and preventable disasters?
Part of the reason that the Southeast's drought is so fascinating is that it is a perfect metaphor for so many other unfolding events in our modern society. The pattern is by now well known: A looming problem is identified, warning bells are sounded, but no action is taken to address the problem. For a long time nothing happens, so the threat is presumed to be overblown. Those who sound warnings are ridiculed as Chicken Littles. But suddenly - seemingly out of the blue - the problem comes home to roost with a vengeance. Disaster strikes. Everyone is caught "off guard" because warnings fell on deaf ears for so many years.
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were like that. The intelligence community had plenty of warning that such an attack was coming, yet the government failed to properly prepare.
The sub-prime housing bust was like that. People who were paying attention could see the disaster that was brewing. Now it looks like it could threaten the very existence of the financial system.
Social Security is like that. The "trust fund" has been raided, the money borrowed/stolen to run day-to-day operations of the government. One day the bills will come due and to everyone's shock and amazement, there will be no money left to pay them.
The destruction of the dollar is like that. Everyone knows it is coming, but what is being done to prevent its decline? Gradually, Americans are becoming paupers on our own soil.
Peak oil, global warming (sunny and 80 degrees in Boston today), the inevitable stock market crash - they're all like that.
But worst of all is the gradual disappearance of America's constitutional republic itself. Gradually, with hardly anyone noticing, America has become a country that taps people's phones, throws people in jail without charges, tortures people, and gives the President the power to declare anyone - including you or me - an unlawful enemy combatant, without evidence, due process or any legal recourse whatsoever.
Is it still America? Like with Atlanta's severe drought, global warming, peak oil, social security, the declining dollar, etc - everything still more or less looks normal now. If it looks normal, everything must be okay, right?
* * *
In our quest for short-term profits and pleasure, Americans have sacrificed lasting value for short term pleasure. Most of us work harder than in recent memory, yet we are no richer, no happier and have nothing of true value to show for the binge. Most Americans assume that the government should be taking care of these things for us, but if the government is doing anything at all, it is likely making things worse by hosting a corporate feeding frenzy to "address the problems."
The biggest lesson from the federal government's response to Katrina is that we're all on our own. Who will care for you in retirement, save your house from foreclosure, come up with alternate transportation solutions, and restore the ideal of the American republic itself? It won't be the government. If there is any hope at all for solutions to these problems, they will come from you and I working together in our communities for a better future. The time has come to act, because waiting around for solutions is the certain road to disaster.
America is in for a multitude of shocks. We have been sleepwalking through the 80's, 90's and 00's, doing what we do best - consuming. But the dictionary definition of the word reads: Consume (v) To destroy or expend by use; use up, devour; to spend wastefully, to waste away.
That sounds about the size of things. The silver lining in this is that when people become threatened enough, we do begin to wake up and act. We recognize once again the value of what we are about to lose, and begin conservation efforts. We begin to conserve.
Author Naomi Wolf, not generally known in political circles as a conservative, warns us in The End of America - Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot just how grave the danger is to our republic. Our society is closing down, following a blueprint set down by fascist and totalitarian regimes throughout history. When she recently spoke in Boston, she said, "We need to get back to the Constitution and restore the rule of law!" These words, coming from the mouth of a diehard liberal Democrat, are identical to those of Republican Ron Paul, the most conservative man in the 2008 presidential race!
Finally! Something that Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives can agree on! We are losing our republic. It is slipping away before our very eyes. Things must be getting pretty bad if people from such differing political backgrounds are joining together in this common fight.
And things are getting bad. After having studied closed, authoritarian regimes, Ms. Wolf distilled a ten-point list, or recipe, that all such regimes pursue:
1. Invoke an internal and external threat
2. Establish secret prisons
3. Develop a paramilitary force
4. Surveil ordinary citizens
5. Infiltrate citizens groups
6. Arbitrarily detain and release citizens
7. Target key individuals
8. Restrict the press
9. Cast criticism as "espionage" and dissent as "treason"
10. Subvert the rule of law.
If you've been following the news, you should be able to go down the list and check most of these off, one by one. I did this recently with a friend: Terrorism, check. Secret prisons, check. Blackwater, check. Wiretapping, check. And so on down the line. If you need help with the rest of them, Ms. Wolf provides ample examples in her book, or in this article she authored at the Guardian UK.
Note that you will find no mention of this book in the American MSM. Ms. Wolf, who became somewhat of a media celebrity after publishing the Beauty Myth in the 1990's, is now suffering from a near complete MSM media blackout of The End of America. She could barely get it published; no mainstream outlets have reviewed it; the news talk shows won't have her on. She did say that she is getting tremendous support on the internet, and from alternative media, such as the website you are reading this article on now. Surprising similarities again to Ron Paul.
Why the media blackout? If the MSM won't talk about it, everything continues to look "normal" about our country on the surface. So why should you care if some "terrorists" are being tortured in secret prisons in far off lands, or if the rule of law is being completely subverted in Iraq? Forget for a moment the moral argument, and simply consider your own self-interest. Ms. Wolf, who has done the research, has the astounding answer: Eventually, these secret prisons, torture tactics, and complete subversion of the rule of law will come home to be turned against ordinary citizens like you and me. It always happens this way. It is simply a matter of time. So you can speak up and fight for those without a voice now, or you can wait until no one is left to fight for you.
The good news is that all is not yet lost. But to save the republic, we all must act swiftly and forcefully. As we all know from experience, the urge to conserve becomes strongest when the threat of loss is most real. Ron Paul has been beating this warning drum for the past 30 years. The public on both sides of the left/right divide is finally starting to wake up. That liberals such as Ms. Wolf are finally beginning to realize the founders' intent with the Second Amendment - the right to keep and bear arms - is an excellent sign.
I urge everyone to read Ms. Wolf's book and pass it on. Call your congressperson and request they support the American Freedom Agenda Act, a bill with wide bi-partisan support (including that of both Ms. Wolf and Dr. Paul) that would restore the Constitution's checks, balances and protections against government abuses.
With our civil liberties quickly eroding in our closing society, we should all begin looking for ways to conserve the ideal of America envisioned by the Founding Fathers.
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